I confess that I manage people well.
Managing people is not for everyone, and this is not an easy task when you have a staff of more than two, ha! At one of my companies I hired and managed a staff of 35 people, and let me tell you it was hectic. What startup isn’t? The most challenging position to bring on was the CFO, oh my god! People get really weird when it comes to money and this position in particular was precisely all about the money. Over a period of about six weeks I interviewed five candidates, after sorting from about one hundred resumes, all of which we qualified.
At the end of each interview I knew if the person was a yay or nay, and was able to tell them on the spot if we would be moving forward to the next round on interviews. They didn’t really like me being so upfront with them on this first interview, but I thought it was for the best; I mean why waste time and energy on emails, and phone calls. At the end of my interviews and having roundtable discussion with the partners I hired Dan, a super nice guy and wicked smart. He began working immediately, we needed someone to come on board and take care of the rapid growth we were experiencing. I mean who wants to manage and count $25,000 a day. Dan did.
Over the days we would sit and strategize about the company, growth, and how to keep the team motivated and engaged with what we were doing. Sales are not easy to maintain and our company growth was in high gear, we needed a long term plan. Dan was constantly watching everything with the finances, while I was managing operations and people, it was working.
Two months after Dan came on board, an investor stepped in and started playing God, it really put a damper on the company and definitely the culture changed, and I will say not for the best. Dan and I stayed late watching the character of the company and sales drop as what I believe a direct result of the investor stepping in and changing what I had created and implemented over the previous eight months. While I worked with him (the investor), I was miserable. We clashed. I stood my ground with every (what I thought to be) wrong decision he made, it wasn’t fun. Over the next several months Dan and I tossed around ideas on how to work around the investor and I continued my weekly staff meetings trying to keep the moral of the company on the smiling side. It didn’t last.
Nine months of his presence was long enough for anyone to go crazy. I lost everyone I had hired, and on each of their exit reviews they would say something like this, “Lane, this guys is killing the company. When you hired me it was fun, you are clear, direct and there is no funny stuff… with him you never know what’s going to happen.” I was incredibly grateful for their words and I didn’t take their leaving personally, I only wished it had been different.
Managing people takes skill, it takes having an open mind, and listening ears. Managing an investor’s bad decisions takes strength and tenacity, it takes having clarity and focus on what’s important for a company, and yourself.
Over several months Dan and I commenced to see the point of all his bad decisions and soon I knew that we would both be leaving. We tried to strategize our exits and how to be civil on a daily basis with an asshole, not easy. When Dan finally left the company, he hugged me and said, “Lane you are a better employer than I ever will be, thank you for showing me what it means to work with someone who cares, and someone who know how to help people, you have done that here. You created something magical, I’m so sorry that it’s now coming to an end.” With that he turned and left. He was my last employee that I hired at the company. I was incredibly sad that day, I left early.
Two months later I took my exit. Eighteen months of high and lows, success and loss. I have an immense amount of gratitude for that experience it showed my my strength and weaknesses. My weakness, male dominating assholes who think they are god. I never crumbed while he walked the floor or tapped on my door to have one more conversation about his great ideas… No I listened and shared, I had an open mind and a willingness to persevere when thing went sour. Today, I know that working with someone like that is not an option. Playing by his rules, not an option. Watching a company slowly die as a result of an ego is eye opening, and depressing. That experience, pushed me to be a better woman and employer, to share how not to be in staff meetings, and how to have a truly “open door” policy!
Bonus confession I don’t like male dominating asshole investors….
How about you? What’s your confession today?